“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” (Luke 6:32-33)
To a very large extent, Christianity is counter-cultural. From having to deny oneself, carry one’s cross, forgive others endlessly to loving God over and above earthly riches, Jesus seems to be asking the impossible from us. In yesterday’s Gospel passage, Jesus told us to be happy rather than sad when we are being persecuted for His sake. Today, we hear Jesus saying: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
Could it be that Jesus is asking for too much? When we read further down the passage, we hear Jesus saying, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” In other words, by asking us to love our enemies, Jesus is basically defining the essence of our identity as Christians. To be a Christian is to have credit. To be a Christian is to be able to do something more than the ordinary.
That is to say, a person who cannot love or do good to those who hate him or her even though baptised is not really a Christian. In truth, to be baptised is to be born again but one cannot be born again unless he or she dies to the old self (the natural self) which is basically selfish, animalistic and unforgiving. Now, it is possible to have received the sacrament of baptism, it is possible to have confessed Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour yet, because you cannot love your enemies, you are not a Christian. Since there is nothing different about you from the unbeliever with regards to the way you treat those who hurt you, you are not a Christian.
Today, there are many who claim to be Christians but are still deeply entrenched in their old ways, many whose hearts are so filled with hatred that when they pray, they spend more time issuing curses and wishing all kinds of evil against others not knowing that whatever they utter with their lips have a boomerang effect in their own lives. If this is you, Jesus says: Repent! Judge not, Condemn not, Forgive, Give – Help those that can never repay you. These things may seem difficult but they always get easier with practise over time. Cultivate the culture of putting smiles on the faces of everyone you encounter no matter who that person is.
Another way we could become stuck in our old ways is our attempt to serve two masters – mixing the worship of God with the worship of idols. As Christians, there are certain things we should not do, certain places we cannot be found in, certain associations or cults we should be members of. St. Paul says that you may have the knowledge that idols are nothing but you must consider the faith of others whose conscience you would be severely wounding through scandal. Recall that Jesus taught us that we cannot serve two masters and that it would be better for a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied to his neck than to lead one of these little ones astray.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to love my enemies, to wish them well and to let go of my pains, hateful feelings and grudges. Free my heart from hurtful memories, help me to do more and replicate you in this world. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Psalm 139:1-24 and Luke 6:27-38).